book review

A Mission Impossible Fantasy | Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Friday, March 26, 2021

 Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Publisher: Henry Holt & Company
Publication Date: 9/29/15
Pages: 465
Source: purchased


Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone. . . . A convict with a thirst for revenge A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager A runaway with a privileged past A spy known as the Wraith A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.
Kaz Brekker, turning into a proper thief, has made quite a reputation for himself in Ketterdam. When a Council member comes to him for help, Kaz knows it must be serious and something he can’t refuse—even if the mission may be impossible. Kaz and his gang of misfits must break into the Ice Court and kidnap a scientist who is working on building a deadly weapon. They may not survive the mission but the money will be good if they do.

Intense Right From the Start

  • I wasn’t sure what I was getting into. I’ve seen Six of Crows on Bookstagram, actually all over the web, and knew it was popular. After the read—this wild ride—it certainly lives up to the hype.
  • A book that can give you a reaction just in the first sentence is definitely the type of book you will love. I didn’t know what the book was about: I go into books blind these days, but how could I not laugh out loud with a first sentence like this: “Joost had two problems: the moon and his mustache.”
  • The writing is unbelievable, its flow and quotable nature can be compared to Renee Ahdieh (author of The Beautiful), who can make her grocery lists gorgeous (never having read Ahdieh’s grocery lists, I can’t rightly say but her writing is just so good—I’m sure there’s genius in every writing she does). Leigh Bardugo’s writing is beyond gorgeously visual—a masterpiece of fantasy. Also, you can tell that Bardugo is not afraid to kill off a few characters and shipwreck some couples. It’s absolutely fantastic in a refreshing sort of way. It makes for an unpredictable plot.
  • The world building was beyond enchanting. However, there were times that Bardugo would drop some term and you would just have to roll with it. I’m sure a lot of the world and terms are better explained in her Grisha trilogy (her series before Six of Crows) which I haven't read yet. Still even without reading the Grisha series, the farther you get into the story of Six of Crows, the more the world and terms begin to make sense. It is almost as if you’ve known the world all your life.
  • The maps in the book are extremely helpful. Also, the characters create one of the maps in the book so you are gazing upon the final creation of what you read in the plot, giving you a glimpse as if you yourself were a part of this group of thieves, a part of the story itself.
  • A lot of the plot is based on this plan to kidnap the scientist—to complete the mission, in its most basic sense. However, in Bardugo’s intense, gorgeous writing, she is able to keep us guessing what the true plan of action truly is. She rarely gives much away, leaving us in curiosity, piecing the puzzle of the plan together ourselves. It is pure genius.
  • Not only does the visual writing do wonders for the imaginative plot, the nonstop action makes it incredibly heart-stopping. Six of Crows would make a fabulous movie.

Real, Incredible Characters

  • Each chapter follows a new character but the multiple perspectives are neither confusing nor overwhelming. Each chapter builds upon the last, moving the story forward in a seamless way.
  • The dialogue is fabulous with sprinkles of humor at the right times throughout.
  • My love is strong for Kaz Brekker. He’s so intelligent, determined and most of all, real. He is the leader and mastermind of the group. His backstory is so perfect, beyond amazing.
  • The characters feel so real that I quickly shipped them off to one another as soon as I was introduced. Each twist in the plot, each turn weighs on your heart.

Overall

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo is definitely worth every ounce of its hype. It is a fantasy which hooks you after the very first sentence. Six of Crows leaves you wanting more with a cliffhanger, and calls for an immediate reread to see how Bardugo dropped all those plot bombs: surprising twists and turns. Crooked Kingdom, the sequel in this superb duology, better be sitting nearby or you may not be able to wait in acquiring it.



Six of Crows (9/29/15): 5 stars
Crooked Kingdom (9/27/16): TBA

Top Ten Tuesday

10 Books On My Spring TBR (2021)

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

It’s been a minute since I posted, hasn’t it? I didn’t mean to take an entire month off but, I suppose, that’s what happened. Grad school started up again and I’m taking on a full schedule this semester. Plus, I am currently suffering the worst reading slump ever. In fact, I only read four whole books in February and started countless more books that I never finish (though I will pick them up again someday). Hopefully, things will turn around for me and I’ll be reading more this spring. I certainly have so many books I would like to pick up!

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week's topic is: Top 10 Books On My Spring TBR:


Happily Ever Afters by Elise Bryant: I haven’t heard a lot of people talk about this one. However, it’s a contemporary romance that is marketed as Jane the Virgin meets To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. That certainly sounds like my perfect book!

Bookish and the Beast by Ashley Poston: The first book was a retelling of Cinderella, the sequel was Prince and the Pauper and the third one, it seems, will be a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. I am so here for it!

The House in the Cerulean Sea by T. J. Klune: I feel like everyone has been reading and talking about this book. It sounds like such a cute read!


We Free the Stars by Hafsah Faizal: I really enjoyed We Hunt the Flame, Faizal’s 2019 debut. So, you can bet I’ll be reading this one soon. Her writing is so fantastic. I can’t wait to revisit the world!

Fable by Adrienne Young: To be honest, I picked this up because of the hype. I know very little about this book except that there’s pirates and thieves. I’m always on the look out for a fantastic pirate book!

The Project by Courtney Summers: I don’t think I’ve ever read a book about a cult before. After loving Sadie, I knew for sure I definitely wanted to pick up whatever Summers releases next! Lo works for a magazine and has just received the biggest scoop that will expose the cult she’s been researching. Lo hopes by exposing the cult, she can also reunite with her estranged sister, Bea, who is in the cult herself. Can't wait to read this one!


We Can’t Keep Meeting Like This by Rachel Lynn Solomon (6/1/21): Today Tonight Tomorrow was one of my favorite books of last year; I have to read her new book! It follows a harpist and a waiter who work weddings, and if this isn’t ingredients for a charming YA romance, I don’t know what is.

Love and Olives by Jenna Evans Welch: You know how much I love amazing romances abroad. I’ve adored every other book in the companion series as well. Love and Olives is set in Greece and I can’t wait for some swoonworthy scenes in front of some gorgeous backdrops.

If I’m Being Honest by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka: I can’t believe I hadn’t read anything by this author duo until last year. Since then, I’ve been slowly working through their backlist and this one is next on my list. It’s a retelling of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew.


House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas: The size is a bit daunting but I think I want to try and tackle it this spring. I haven’t acquired her newest book in the ACOTAR series yet but I’d thought I would finish this one first. 

What are you planning on reading this spring?

book review

A Strong, Inspiring Female Lead | The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee

Friday, January 22, 2021

 The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee

P
ublisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date: 10/2/18
Pages: 450
Source: purchased

A year after an accidentally whirlwind grand tour with her brother Monty, Felicity Montague has returned to England with two goals in mind—avoid the marriage proposal of a lovestruck suitor from Edinburgh and enroll in medical school. However, her intellect and passion will never be enough in the eyes of the administrators, who see men as the sole guardians of science. But then a window of opportunity opens—a doctor she idolizes is marrying an old friend of hers in Germany. Felicity believes if she could meet this man he could change her future, but she has no money of her own to make the trip. Luckily, a mysterious young woman is willing to pay Felicity’s way, so long as she’s allowed to travel with Felicity disguised as her maid. In spite of her suspicions, Felicity agrees, but once the girl’s true motives are revealed, Felicity becomes part of a perilous quest that leads them from the German countryside to the promenades of Zurich to secrets lurking beneath the Atlantic.
All Felicity wants in life is to study medicine in a proper setting, to learn from the best professionals in the field. She moved to Scotland to have the most opportunities to apply as a student. However, each board of directors say the same thing: “Unfortunately, you can’t study here. You’re a woman.” Felicity is so tired of being turned away. When she gets news that her idol, the famed Dr. Alexander Platt, is leaving for an expedition and might take her on, Felicity may have stumbled on some good luck, after all. The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee is the wonderful companion to The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue.

Mixed Reviews

  • Going into The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy, I was a bit hesitant. There are quite a few mixed reviews on the book. And while reading The Gentleman's Guide, I always seemed to find Felicity rather annoying and mean. The Lady’s Guide follows Felicity’s story after the events of The Gentleman's Guide. As much as I would have loved Lee to have picked up right where she left off, The Lady’s Guide takes place a few months after the ending of the previous book. 

Shining Characters

  • Mackenzi Lee wowed me with her superb writing in The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue. The historical backdrop makes for a lovely drama. Her characters have always felt contemporary—not only from their tone and perspective but because Lee makes all her characters extremely relatable.
  • Monty and Percy make an appearance. And despite Monty being a shining star, he doesn’t upstage Felicity in her own novel which is a feat. They were my favorite characters from the previous book so it was delightful to check in on them to see what they've been up to since the Tour.
  • Felicity’s dream is to study medicine. She has had such a trying time of it too—because she is a woman in a historical society, it is difficult to make this dream of hers come true. The repetition of her inner monologue of "I am a woman. I am capable" starts out empowering but becomes a bit repetitive. Felicity shows time and time again that she is certainly capable of becoming a doctor as she stitches up her comrades with no trouble whatsoever, etc. Readers could do without the constant reminder of her inner voice when we've have already seen it for ourselves.
  • Despite the repetition, her drive is quite admirable and inspiring. Felicity is determined to become a doctor, in any way possible. She travels a long way for the chance and continues to surprise readers at how far she is willing to go for her dream. She is also a fantastic role model for young girls.
  • Johanna is introduced as Felicity’s childhood friend and Dr. Platt’s fiancĂ©. She is my new favorite character in this one. Joanna is a woman of her time, yet doesn’t let societal rules stifle her. She is feminine, yet headstrong and intelligent. Her character opens up a few discussions in the difference of opinions on gender equality. I adored her throughout the novel. 

Important Discussions

  • Whereas The Gentleman’s Guide was an epic road trip adventure, The Lady’s Guide speaks volumes to girl power and discusses the strength and rights of women in a world ruled by men. This theme may take place in a historical society of the 1700s but it will also strike home to readers at its timeliness.
  • Lee brings more to her discussion on gender roles in the author’s note which is certainly a must read. She breaks down each aspiration the female leads had, giving readers a look of real-life history. Lee also makes a few book recommendations to find out more on each subject—you can bet I'll be checking out the pirate book she mentions! 
  • Despite the title giving it away, there are pirates. However, they aren't formally introduced until past the halfway point which is rather disappointing. Though the wait for them to appear is certainly worth it as Lee enchants us with a new take on pirates. In The Lady’s Guide, pirates are the sort to protect their sea boundaries and all that live within their waters. And, of course, threaten those who come too close. Lee opens another discussion here, this time about environmentalism and the importance of protecting rare wildlife. Despite the lack of pillaging and plunder from the pirates, there are some well-written action sequences abroad the ships!

Time to Say Goodbye, Or Is It?

  • Both Monty and Felicity will always have a place in my heart—as well as all the amazing side characters of these books: Scipio, Sim, Johanna, and Percy. Mackenzi Lee has created such a fantastic adventure series. 
  • While I thought there weren't any more siblings, Mackenzi Lee has surprised us with another installment of the Montague Siblings series, which I'm eagerly anticipating. It's set to release in November of 2021 (but the date has been pushed back so many times that it may even change again, though I hope not). I am looking forward to hearing what the siblings have been up to!

Overall

The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee was, unfortunately, not as good as The Gentleman’s Guide. However, comparison aside, this book has the ability to move mountains—it begins such fantastic discussions, creates an inspiring role model for readers, and the superb writing makes for some amazing scenes! 



Top Ten Tuesday

10 Books I Meant to Read in 2020 But Didn't

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

I read a total of 120 books last year and even so, I still missed out on a few that I definitely meant to get to. I kept telling myself that I would read them before the end of the year. And now that the end of the year has passed us by, I still haven’t read these books. They’re all just staring at me from their shelves, waiting to be read. Hopefully, I’ll get to them this year.


Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week's topic is: Top 10 Books I Meant to Read in 2020 But Didn't:


Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare: I’m a bit behind in the Shadowhunter universe. My goal for last year was to finish the two anthologies that take place before The Dark Artifices, this series, and then read this one. I was able to finish The Bane Chronicles and The Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy but couldn’t fit Lady Midnight in my reading schedule. I’ve heard so many amazing things about these books so I'm definitely excited to start the series!

Little Woman by Louisa May Alcott: How embarrassing that I had this book on this list last year too! My goal last year was to read the book and see the movie when it was still in theaters. In the pandemic, I actually missed Little Women in theaters and will have to rent the DVD instead. However, I’m most determined to get this read this year.

Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo: I’ve been meaning to pick up the rest of the Grisha trilogy. I read Shadow and Bone in 2019 and while I really enjoyed it, it definitely wasn’t at the enjoyment level I had when reading the Six of Crows duology. However, the TV series is releasing in April and will have characters from both Shadow and Bones series and Six of Crows duology so I need to finish the trilogy before then.


The Cruel Prince by Holly Black: It seems there is always someone talking about this book series and I’m interested to read it to find what all the buzz is about. I know it’s about rude fairies and there’s a romance, I think. We shall have to see!

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson: I’ve been meaning to read this retelling of Jack the Ripper for years. I adore Johnson’s writing and can’t wait to read this one. Plus, this is the first book in a trilogy so if I end up liking it, there’s a few more to read as well.

Dawn of the Dreadfuls by Steve Hockingsmith: The prequel of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is actually the oldest book on my shelves (haul date-wise, not age-wise) and I was hoping to read it last year. I had a brilliant plan to read books that have been on my shelves since 2011 but 2020 turned out to be more of a mood reading year than anything else. I did read a few books that I hauled in 2011, but I definitely want to get to this one and some others.


House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas: I usually don’t add new releases to lists like this because I’m read backlist throughout the year anyway so that-year’s-releases tend to get pushed to the next year. However, this was one 2020 release that I truly wanted to devour. Now that I have a copy of my own, the size is quite daunting which is why I haven’t picked it up yet, but hopefully soon!

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers: I put this book on so many of my monthly TBRs and I still didn’t read it. The publisher even did a read-along for the entire series and revamped the covers last year and I was so stoked to participate but I missed it. :( This one sounds like a YA fantasy that I will love! The protagonist is an assassin that works for Death himself—that sounds so fantastic!

Fame, Fate, and the First Kiss by Kasie West: I usually try to finish a book written by West every year but somehow I missed reading a book by her in 2020. I will just have to remedy this in 2021, starting with Fame, Fate, and the First Kiss which is a sequel/companion to Life, Love, and the List.


The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon: I was going to wait until more of the books in the series released before I read this one but so many people on Instagram and Youtube were chatting about this one and I just want to know what they hype is all about. I’ve had this one my shelf since it released and really meant to read it last year when a few read-alongs were occurring but I missed picking it up. 2021 is certainly the year to read all the fantasy that have been sitting on my shelves for forever!

What book did you mean to read last year but didn't?

book tag

The TBR Book Tag (2021)

Thursday, January 14, 2021

I haven’t done a tag in a long time and I thought today would be a good day! I saw this one over at Angela’s Musings of a Literary Wanderer a few years ago and bookmarked it to do at a later date. I adore talking about my TBR as much as I adore reading from it. 


When I saw a whole book tag that discusses books I want to read, I knew I wanted to give it a go. Plus, this tag’s questions are rather versatile so I could always revisit in a year from now and most of the questions will probably be different. Here’s the TBR book tag:

How do you keep track of your TBR pile?

I keep track of my TBR a couple of ways. I use a personal Excel spreadsheet that I’ve created that keeps track of every single book I own and what books I have on my to-read list. On Goodreads, I’ve made my to-read, exclusively, books I own that I have yet to read (and I also have a considering shelf that houses books I do not own or that aren’t out yet that I want to read as well). I also use Libib, which is a digital library database, to keep track of all the books on my TBR. I love Libib because you can rate books with half stars!

Is your TBR pile mostly print or e-book?

My TBR is mostly print. E-books usually take me ages to complete so I tend to prefer print.

A book that has been on your TBR for the longest?


Dawn of the Dreadfuls by Steve Hockensmith: According to Goodreads, it looks like I hauled this book on February 9, 2011. This year, I’m trying to make it a priority to read some of the books that have been on my shelves for the longest so I should definitely start with this one. Dawn of the Dreadfuls is the prequel to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

A book that you recently added to your TBR pile?


I just added Fable by Adrienne Young to my physical TBR and I can’t wait to read it. I wouldn’t have even picked this one up if it wasn’t for the hype. Because of the hype, I found out that there’s pirates and thieves and just everything that I adore! As for my digital TBR (which includes books to be released or books that are out but I don’t own), I just added Happily Ever Afters by Elise Bryant (Jane the Virgin meets Lara Jean, need I say more?!). A Lesson in Vengeance by Victoria Lee isn’t even released yet (can’t wait until August 2021!) but I also just added it; it's about a haunted boarding school and a mystery that’s waiting to be uncovered.

A book in your TBR pile strictly because of its beautiful cover?


I initially purchased The Antidote by Shelley Sackier because of it’s gorgeous cover but I keep it on my shelf because it sounds like an amazing fantasy! As for my digital TBR, The Wide Starlight by Nicole Lesperance (releases February 16) and Ever Cursed by Corey Ann Haydu both have fantastic covers and also sound fantastic!

A book on your TBR that you never plan to read?


If the book has made it to my physical TBR (books that I physically own), I will most definitely be reading it. As for my digital TBR, I frequently add or remove books from the list. Most simply, my tastes change from time to time so I go in and take out books that I’m not really interested in anymore. Currently, I’m thinking about removing Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia from my TBR, based on other reviews I’ve read—it just doesn’t sound like something I would enjoy.

An unpublished book on your TBR that you're excited for?


Every single one of them. I recently made a blog post of all the 2021 books I’m excited for. A few you won’t find on the list because I just discovered them: Wench by Maxine Kaplan (1/19/21), The Taking of Jake Livingston by Ryan Douglass (7/13/21), and The Hawthorne Legacy by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (9/16/21).

A book on your TBR that everyone has read but you?


It seems like everyone has read The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab and either loved it or hated it. I still haven’t read The Cruel Prince by Holly Black which is something I plan to remedy this year. Also, so many of the people I follow on social media have already read House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas

A book on your TBR that everyone recommends to you?


Last year, quite a few people recommended The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune to me. Also, some of my friends keep telling me to read Save the Date by Morgan Matson and Crave by Tracy Wolff. Hopefully, I’ll get to all of these soon!

A book on your TBR you're dying to read?


I can’t wait to read these! I’ve been in a contemporary romance mood lately so I’ve got my eye on The Perfect Escape by Suzanne Park which is a co-worker romance that takes place at a zombie-themed escape room! On the fantasy side, I am so ready to devour There Will Come a Darkness by Katy Rose Pool. As for series, I’m hoping to finish the conclusion to The Honors trilogy soon, Honor Lost by Rachel Caine and Ann Aguirre.

How many books are on your TBR?


I changed this question a little bit to read “how many on your TBR” rather than “how many on your Goodreads TBR” since I use my Goodreads shelves as a catch-all TBR. So, I know it’s quite a lot and I’m working on trying to get the number down. Hopefully, by this time next year, I will have a significantly lower number on my TBR. Physically, my TBR is roughly 315 books. I acquire these books primarily second-hand at thrift shops or as gifts from friends. Digitally, my TBR is at 155 books, which includes books that haven’t been published yet and other books I am thinking about reading. Ideally, I’d rather not be drowning in my TBR so this year is the year to read more of my owned TBR and attempt to get it down to less than 100. Wish me luck!

What about your TBR? What book are you most excited to read next? How many books do you have in your TBR pile?